We are not ‘yes’ men. We love our clients. We’re fortunate – all of them are dear to us. They respect our expertise, listen to our advice, do the right things and pay on time. It’s a two-way street. But as professional website designers and web developers, we say ‘no’ to more projects than we say ‘yes’ to.

It might seem a bit nutty in a highly competitive world still neck deep in recession. But we feel life is far too short and lovely to work alongside people who don’t hold the same values we do. Here are twelve good reasons to politely pass on a project.

Unrealistic expectations full stop

We know our stuff. That’s why people and businesses want us as their web design partner. So it’s difficult when people who should know better have unrealistic expectations. If someone asks us to make them Twitter, for example, and just won’t listen to reason no matter how many ways we explain it’s not possible, it’s time to move on.

Budgets that don’t match expectations – We pull out all the stops for our clients. But we are not a charity. If someone comes to us with sky-high expectations and no budget, we’ll say no, thank you. We simply couldn’t do the sort of work we want to do, if we said ‘yes’ to this kind of projects.

The pride test

If we’re proud enough of a project to feature it on our website, that’s usually a sign a project is worth exploring. If we know we’d avoid showcasing the work, railroaded into by a piece of work a client stubbornly insisted on despite our advice, we won’t want to work with that client again.

When the procurement process is longer than the actual job

It’s meeting number seven and the client has just about managed to whittle down their website design agency options to two finalists. They want to see yet more creative ideas and they’re even cheeky enough to ask for a rate cut. Hm. The signs are not looking good. Would you waste any more time on a pitch process that might never end?

When decisions are made by committee

Scientific research proves that trying to make a decision involving more than eight people is hopeless. If you ever wondered why climate change summits fail so frequently, that’s probably the reason. Decisions made by committee are almost always poor ones, hampered by compromise. We’d rather not get involved in the first place, since we know the entire process will be horribly time consuming and painful. The solution? Appoint one client-side person to coordinate internal feedback and liaise with the web team. Clients shouldn’t need to pore over every decision or get multiple sign-offs for every tiny thing. If they want to work that way, we’d rather steer clear.

Bizarre requests that just won’t work

Honestly, no word of a lie, one potential client wanted his entire website built upside down to make a statement. Erm… No thanks. Goodbye and good luck! We are web design experts for a reason. We know our stuff. If a client doesn’t listen to us despite all our experience, it’s not going to be a good cultural fit and we’d rather walk away.

When communication is a nightmare

Have you ever waited for a reply to a phone call or email… and waited… and waited? We don’t get in touch for fun. We only contact clients when it’s important. If they can’t be bothered to meet us half way while scoping out a potential project, do we want to commit to more of the same?

Whenever the hippo turns up! Hippos are the highest paid people and they’re some of the hardest folk to please. Some of them, of course, are brilliant to work with. But far too many hippos don’t ‘do’ data. They run offices full of ‘yes’ men. They’re sometimes bullies and in our experience, the bullies don’t want web designers. They just want people who can click buttons more efficiently than themselves. We much prefer to save our sanity by avoiding them like the plague.

Timescales are too tight

Last week we were asked to finish an eight-week project within a couple of weeks. But there wasn’t any extra budget to pay for the considerable extra push required. The project timelines we create are there for a reason. If a client wants our passion and expertise for nothing, we’d rather walk away. It’s a clear sign they’ll continue that way in future.

A client wants us to plagiarise other websites

We’re in digital marketing. Plagiarising websites and stealing content is dangerous business practice as well as bad Karma and thoroughly dishonourable. You might love your competitor’s website to bits. That doesn’t mean it makes marketing sense to copy it and maybe just change the colours. It’s our job to build you a site that’s better than the competition, not the same. So our answer to that one is always a resounding ‘no’.

Vague feedback

“I don’t know what I want, but I’ll know it when I see it.” Really? Sadly that just isn’t good enough. It leaves us trying to guess what’s in the client’s head, which is impossible. It’s a bit like throwing darts at a dartboard in a dark room with a blindfold on when nobody has told you where the dartboard is. It’s a rubbish way to work and we’d rather not. We will help you come up with a decent brief. You don’t need all the answers, but discussing the problems with us means we can establish focused solutions. On the other hand, you’re welcome to find a web design company that’s great at guessing, if there is such an animal!

When a client agrees one thing but expects another. Scope creep is common in everyday life. You might expect the decorator to paint the front door as well as the window sills, for example. But is it fair to expect it for free, as a matter of course? We don’t want to limit your ability to change your mind. The price at the beginning of this contract is based on the length of time we estimate we’ll need to accomplish everything you’ve told us you want to achieve, but we’re happy to be flexible. If you want to change your mind or add anything new, that won’t be a problem as we’ll provide a separate estimate for that. It’s no biggie.

Have you ever declined a web design project?

Or, if you’re a web design client, have you ever passed on an agency for similar reasons? We’d love to know the details…